HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND AFFECTED YOUR LIFE/ WORK?
I’m interested in how marginalized people have always supported each other and cared for one another in the face of ongoing state terror and violent repression. I feel emboldened to do the work that I do because of the legacy of my ancestors. I come from a long long line of freedom fighters and healers who defeated the French, Spanish, and British military during the Haitian Revolution; the only successful slave revolt in modern history that resulted in the eradication of slavery and the expulsion of white people from the island. I rely heavily on my cultural heritage (art, music, storytelling, etc) to keep the spirit of this resistance alive in the face of the 200+ years of disenfranchisement and persecution of Haiti by parasitic states like the United States and France.
Vodou is a particularly strong influence on my art practice and politics. Haitian cosmologies are quite complex and evade simplistic binary notion of gender, race, and disability. The Lwa in Haitian Vodou shape shift: they take on the form of humans, animals, or plants. Many of them are queer and their genders are infinitely variable. They help me remember what it means to live in the spaces between life and death, sickness and health, the masculine and the feminine, and so on. My Haitian heritage is the home from which I continually reframe and question dominant social and political systems, namely white supremacist capitalist ableist cisexist patriarchy (dang, that’s a mouthful).
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU (UPCOMING PROJECTS)?
My life-long project is finding the strength to say “no” to opportunities so that I can focus on taking care of myself, my friends, and my family. I make work on my own timeline, not the pace set by the culture industry.
Photo: Dan Gutt